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The Damned Don't Cry (1950)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 13 May 1950 (USA)
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A New York socialite climbs the ladder of success man by man until a life among rich gangsters gives her what she thought she always wanted.

Director:

Vincent Sherman

Writers:

Harold Medford (screenplay), Jerome Weidman (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Joan Crawford ... Ethel Whitehead (Lorna Hansen Forbes)
David Brian ... George Castleman (Joe Caveny)
Steve Cochran ... Nick Prenta
Kent Smith ... Martin Blackford
Hugh Sanders ... Grady
Selena Royle ... Patricia Longworth
Jacqueline deWit ... Sandra
Morris Ankrum ... Jim Whitehead
Edith Evanson ... Mrs. Castleman
Richard Egan ... Roy
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Storyline

The murder of gangster Nick Prenta touches off an investigation of mysterious socialite Lorna Hansen Forbes, who seems to have no past, and has now disappeared. In flashback, we see the woman's anonymous roots; her poor working-class marriage, which ends in tragedy and her determination to find "better things." Soon finding that sex appeal is her only salable commodity, she climbs from man to man toward the center of a nationwide crime syndicate...a very perilous position. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Warner Bros.' flaming stars of "Flamingo Road" meet in another scarlet alley! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 May 1950 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Victim See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,233,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Ethel Whitehead first sees Martin Blankford working in the office of her firm, there is a photo of a building behind his desk. That building is the original Phelan Building, which stood at the corner of Market Street and O'Farrell Streets in San Francisco. The photo was taken about 1890. It was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and subsequent fire. A larger and more impressive Phelan Building was constructed on the same site. It is now an historic landmark. See more »

Quotes

Patricia Longworth: [at the roulette table] What's happened to that system of yours, darling? I thought you always quit while you were still ahead.
Ethel Whitehead: I've been experimenting with a new one: stay to the bitter end.
[to croupier]
Ethel Whitehead: If you'll write out the obituary, I'll give you a check.
See more »


Soundtracks

Trade Winds
(uncredited)
Music by Cliff Friend
Played at the Hacienda when Lorna meets Prenta
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Joan Crawford: From Ethel Whitehead to Lorna Hansen Forbes
7 July 2003 | by bmacvSee all my reviews

Joan Crawford once again follows the familiar trajectory from poverty and discontent to affluence and deeper discontent. It was a storyline that would win her an Oscar in her comeback vehicle Mildred Pierce and would serve as a template for many of the films in the post-war decade for which she is so strongly remembered. And while it's not the best of them – it's derivative and overstuffed – it's far from the worst.

When her young son is killed, greasy-skinned drudge Ethel Whitehead (Crawford) leaves her loveless marriage and her sour parents' house next to the oilfields to seek the good life. In New York, her stint as a `model' at Fit-Right Frocks toughens her up, particularly the evenings spent entertaining out-of-town buyers (`I feel like something on sale in the bargain basement,' she gripes). Her avaricious eye lands on the firm's bookish accountant (Kent Smith), whom she propels from the poor-paying straight-and-narrow to the fat fees of cooking books for the syndicate. She has no time for his moral qualms: `Don't talk to me about self-respect! Self-respect is what you tell yourself you got when you got nothing else.'

But she drops the doting Smith like a hot brick when she finally meets Mr. Big (David Brian), who likes her spunk but opens the window on her strident perfume Temptation (`I suppose it is...in some quarters,' he sniffs). He enrolls her in a kind of finishing school for high-class molls run by Selena Royle, even sending her abroad for a year so she can tell a flowerpot from an Etruscan `vahse.' Crawford emerges in `provocative' new guise, as oil heiress Lorna Hansen Forbes – a phony clotheshorse who becomes Brian's mistress and the toast of the town.

When sedition brews in the western end of Brian's crime empire, however, he sends her out to the gambling oasis of Desert Springs to spy on Steve Cochran (playing much the same role of disloyal lieutenant he did the year before in White Heat). Crawford and Cochran, of course, fall victim to Cupid's arrows. But Brian, grown suspicious, pays an unexpected visit, while Crawford's cover is blown when she's spotted by somebody who knew her as Ethel Whitehead....

The Damned Don't Cry benefits from a frisky script which nonetheless could use some pruning (the hardscrabble first marriage and the child's death are unnecessary echoes of Mildred Pierce). And Warner's new leading man Brian stays as charmless against Crawford as he was the year before against Bette Davis in Beyond the Forest; both Smith and Cochran, however, supply some acting that's at least two-dimensional. It's a story that shows Crawford as tough but not unvanquishable. In fact, she gets knocked around more than she ever was or would be until she matched up against Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (Or married Alfred Steele.)


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